NEW DELHI: Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passed in San Diego on Tuesday. He was 92. He was admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla last week after he complained of breathing problem. He breathed his last at 4.30 p.m. Pacific Time.
The legendary musician and composer was India's musical ambassador and a unique phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. He was a pioneer in taking Indian music to the West.
Shankar was born in Varanasi and spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday Shankar.
Shankar worked as a composer, creating the music for the Apu Trilogy by Satyajit Ray, and was music director of All India Radio, New Delhi.
In 1956, he began to tour Europe and America playing Indian classical music and increased its popularity there in the 1960s through teaching, performance, and his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and rock artist George Harrison of The Beatles. Shankar engaged Western music by writing concerti for sitar and orchestra and toured the world in the 1970s and 1980s. From 1986 to 1992 he served as a nominated member of the upper chamber of the Parliament of India.
Shankar was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1999, and received three Grammy Awards. He continued to perform in the 2000s often with his daughter Anoushka.
Shankar married Allauddin Khan's daughter Annapurna Devi in 1941 and a son, Shubhendra Shankar, was born in 1942. Shankar separated from Devi during the 1940s and had a relationship with Kamala Shastri, a dancer, beginning in the late 1940s.
An affair with Sue Jones, a New York concert producer, led to the birth of Norah Jones in 1979. In 1981, Anoushka Shankar was born to Shankar and Sukanya Rajan, whom Shankar had known since the 1970s. After separating from Kamala Shastri in 1981, Shankar lived with Sue Jones until 1986. He married Sukanya Rajan in 1989.
Shankar’s both daughters Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar excelled in the field of music following their father’s footsteps. Norah Jones became a successful musician in the 2000s, winning eight Grammy Awards in 2003. Whereas Anoushka and her father were nominated for Best World Music Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards for separate albums.